Special Guardianship was designed specifically for family members taking on the permanent care of a child within the family.
They give the Special Guardian formal parental responsibility that overrides that of anyone else with parental responsibility i.e. the parents. This leaves the Special Guardian in charge and able to make decisions for the child: whether that be on practical things like choice of schools, or where the child lives, or what contact they should have with other members of the family. The parents retain their parental responsibility and should ideally be informed and consulted where appropriate, but the Special Guardian is able to get on and deal with things, even if the parents do not respond or co-operate accordingly.
Special Guardianship Orders and Child Arrangement Orders
Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) were introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002, to fill the gap between Child Arrangement Orders (CAOs) and adoption. CAO’s determine who a child is to live with ( or spend time with) and can grant parental responsibility namely all the legal rights and duties of a parent. The parental responsibility granted by a CAO is shared with those who already have it, equally. Adoption is different and ends a parents’ parental responsibility so the child becomes legally the child of the adopters but in some cases adoption can skew familial relationships.
For example if an elder sibling is caring for their younger sibling as their parents cannot. If they adopted their sibling (s)he would become their legal child. This may be difficult in certain circumstances and not what a family wants. A Special Guardianship Order means that the elder sibling would acquire enhanced parental responsibility; it would not end the parents parental responsibility but the SGO means that the holder can exercise their enhanced parental responsibility and they can make the necessary decisions for the child.
SGOs are available to everyone e.g. family members, foster carers and others although sometimes leave of the Court is needed to make an application.
We Can Help
At MW Solicitors, our mission is to "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those family members wishing to take on permanent care of a child through a Special Guardianship Order.
Our team of dedicated Family Lawyers have years of experience dealing in all aspects of Family Law and can assist and advise you in securing a Special Guardianship Order. We will support you through the process from giving the required notice to the Local Authority to drafting the application, advising on the support plan offered by the Local Authority and representing you at the court hearings when the Judge will decide whether an order is in the best interests of the child. We can also advise you on the allowances and support you should expect to receive by law and statute and statutory regulations and whether the support plan being offered by the Local Authority meets the requirements of the child and negotiate on your behalf with the Local Authority. In many cases if a child has been placed with you by the Local Authority they will pay for you to have legal advice on their assessment of you and the support plan.